Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Big Too Faced Sale

Up to 70% off. For example, a set of 5 travel size products ("Beauty Editor Darlings") for $9 or the "Bonjour Beautiful" set with matte eyeshadow palette, lip palette, and eyeliner for $18. You can also get free shipping over $25 with code PRETTYPACKAGE (I think? worth a shot at least) and an extra 4% off from Ebates (invite link).

The only thing I've ever used from Two Faced is the lip primer, which I love. Anything else look good?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Birchbox vs. Ipsy

I recently decided to cancel my Ipsy subscription, which I've had since 2012, when it was still called My Glam. Instead, I've decided to start getting Birchbox again. Because I am sure that this is as exciting a development for everyone else as it is for me (ha), I thought I'd write up a little post about why.

I really preferred Ipsy for a long time. When I quit Birchbox in January 2013, it was because I was getting fed up with getting tons of little foil packets of things and perfume vials all the time. It looks like the samples they are sending now are more interesting, and they also have an option to only get a maximum of 6 perfume samples a year. Nice! Another reason I quit Birchbox in favor of Ipsy at the time that I did was that I was really into makeup and not particularly interested in other things like skin or hair care products. Ipsy seemed to be much heavier on the makeup/nail polish, while I kept getting moisturizers I didn't want from BB ("I'm plenty moist already!"). These days, though, Ipsy has been including more non-makeup items, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm finding myself more interested in skin care than I used to be, and my skin has been getting drier, so I am even fine with moisturizer samples.

Ipsy was also great for me when I had a smaller makeup hoard, because it sort of forced me to try out products I might not have considered. Like I probably wouldn't have picked out a bright red lip gloss for myself at that point, but it turned out to work really well (and got me hooked). Plenty of those products were full sized, and so they really made up a useful part of my collection. I think it this point part of the problem is that I own so much shit that most of the makeup they send me is either going to be a duplicate of something I already have or something I am really, really not interested in. I am rarely getting unusual and unique products from Ipsy anymore - or at least that's how it feels. Instead, I'm getting more black eyeliner and mascara or neutral lip glosses from brands I am already familiar with, etc. This month's bag was kind of the last straw for me, because there was absolutely nothing of particular interest to me. The only full size product included was a cheap green apple scented lip balm that I probably would have turned my nose up at in middle school. I think it might have glitter in it. Fuck no. (Snob.)

Here are the other things I got this month in my Ipsy bag:



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Benefit sale + free shipping on all orders

Benefit has a bunch of stuff on sale. If you use the code SALEMEAWAY you'll also get free US shipping, no minimum purchase required. Sale ends Aug. 19. Anything look good?

Monday, August 11, 2014

CoverGirl Clump Crusher Mascara: My Thoughts

By now you've probably read a bunch of reviews of this mascara, because it's not exactly new any more. But there are a few things about it that I've found interesting, and that I didn't see mentioned anywhere before I bought my own, so I thought I'd share them here.

I was interested in trying out this particular mascara since I am a huge fan of CoverGirl LastBlast mascaras. I've probably tried out more than a dozen other mascaras in the last year or two, but LashBlast is still my favorite, and I was using it before I ever started makeup hoarding blogging. I find the LashBlast brush really user friendly - easy to get down to the roots of my stubby lashes - and the formula lengthens and volumizes without getting all spidery. It's not overly dramatic, but it looks great. It also never splatters or smears or flakes, which I think is at least partly because it has a drier formula (and I actually prefer it after it's been open for a couple of weeks and dried out even more).

Most of the information I read about Clump Crusher suggested to me that it would be similar to LashBlast but even less clumpy. I mean, there are a bunch of tests people have done in which they apply 48 layers of mascara or whatever and it never clumps. That's not particularly useful, but good to know, I guess.

I don't have a tube of LashBlast available right now to compare directly, since I am still using up the handfuls of other mascaras I decided somewhere along the way I needed to try. But here are my thoughts about Clump Crusher. I got it in brown, because all my other mascaras were black, and I like to have a brown option on hand. Since my coloring is so light, it's nice for creating a more natural look.

It definitely does not clump. Surprise, surprise. It also has a fairly dry formula, comparable to LashBlast. One thing that I love about the non-clumpiness is that it means that this stuff works better on my lower lashes than any other mascara I've tried, because non-clumpy also means non-globby. I basically have seven short eyelashes below each eye, and trying to apply mascara to them is usually a semi-disaster. I tend to end up with a blob on each lash, and then I have to wipe the blobs away and sometimes the blobs transfer to my lower lid. It's annoying and doesn't look too pretty, so half the time I skip my bottom lashes completely. But this stuff just coats each individual last evenly, and that's it! It's a fucking miracle. I'm going to keep one of these on hand just for doing bottom lashes even when I'm using something else on the top. Here are some photos of what it looks like on my eyelashes:

Invisible eyelashes with no mascara.
Three coats of Clump Crusher on upper lashes; one coat on lower lashes.
Three coats of Clump Crusher.
Four coats of Clump Crusher on upper lashes.

Friday, August 8, 2014

I am not a TV star (Review of e.l.f. Essential Lip Stain in Crimson Crush + sassy GIFs)

Every time I've watched New Girl or Don't Trust the B (RIP), I end up trying to figure out how to get my lips to look like Zooey Deschanel's or Krysten Ritter's. What is particularly appealing are the scenes when these women are just sort of hanging around the house casually, probably when we are supposed to assume that they are not wearing makeup (ha!) - yet they still have crimson lips. They don't really look like they have lipstick on; it's as if their lips are just naturally cherry red. Here are a couple of examples of what I mean:



These are perhaps not the best illustrations, because they look pretty lipsticky, but apparently people aren't screencapping or GIFing these ladies bumming around in their PJs.

I got it in my head that I needed a lip stain to replicate this look. I am fully aware that the product used on the actual TV shows was probably not a stain. More likely it's just blotted matte lipstick or something. If it wears off or gets messed up, they have a makeup artist standing by. Nevertheless, I wanted a stain! I am stubborn.

Stila on HauteLook + Blog Sale update

I figured that I would combine these two topics, in case anyone is sick of hearing about the blog sale (skip to the next paragraph in that case). Rest assured, this will be my last post about it. I'm moving in a week, so anything not sold by then will be packed up and dealt with some time in the distant(ish) future. I'll take the blog sale down at that point. But I just wanted to mention that I reduced the prices of a lot of stuff today, and I also added a few new things (check at the end of the makeup section under "Not Pictured"). As usual, no bargaining please, but do feel free to stock up on the free stuff.

I also thought I'd point out that Stila is on HauteLook again (invite link). It pops up fairly regularly but not always with the same items. This time there are some nice looking lip and cheek palettes for $8, and a 4-piece Kitten collection for $12. Not bad! The Laura Geller sale (invite link) is still there too, in case you want to maximize your ~$6 shipping charge.

I'm going to write up a quick e.l.f. lip stain review later this afternoon, so stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Programming Notice (no more affiliate links)

I'm trying to streamline things around here, because I have many very hectic months ahead of me, and I'd like to be able to continue posting 2-3 times a week. I quit the Amazon affiliate program today, so that means no more affiliate links of any kind on this blog. I have nothing against affiliate links - I just don't want to bother with them anymore. I believe that the links I have added to previous posts will still be functional (i.e. you can still click on them and get to a product page), but I will no longer get any revenue if you buy anything through them. I'm not going to go through all my old posts and remove all the disclosure notices, because that would take forever, so consider this a mega disclosure that there is nothing to disclose. I.e. there are now no affiliate links in any old or new posts.

I still might include the occasional invite/referral link from time to time, but those will be clearly labeled.

I'm also going to try to move to a MWF posting schedule. Some weeks it might only be MW or WF or MF. I want to be able to keep doing this, because I enjoy it, but I have to prioritize other things.

Anyway, I just like to try to be transparent about how things work on my blog, so I thought I would update. Let me know if there are any questions.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

What I Packed (and what I tried to empty)

No, I'm not dead. I just went on vacation for a few days. Yes, vacation from the part time job I just got. Vacation where I barely had to spend any money and other people cooked for me. (Checking my vacation privilege here.) I went with my boyfriend to his family's cabin on Lake Michigan. The weather was lovely, though not quite warm enough to do much swimming. The greatest miracle of all was that I managed to avoid a sunburn, despite being in the sun for hours on end, several days in a row. That's almost unheard of for me. Actually, I did burn my scalp a little the first day, but then I bought an awesome linen hat (surely designed for elderly gardeners) and wore it constantly. I even wore the hat swimming. That, and diligent sunscreen application, protected me very well.

Sometimes it's fun to see what kind of things people pack when they travel, so I thought I'd post my version here. This was in no way a fancy trip, so I brought very minimal supplies. The bulk of what I brought was sun protection and skin care shit. I didn't even bring concealer. I just walked around with ghoulish dark circles under my eyes. Gasp.

My general guidelines when deciding what to bring were: (1) small things that didn't take up much space; and (2) products that I wanted to use up and throw away, either because they would expire soon or because they were almost finished already. I only succeeding in finishing a couple of products, unfortunately. I was hoping to come home with several more empties! (I've linked to any reviews I've written for products listed below.)

Bath/Hair/Cleansers


Herbal Essences Naked Dry Shampoo
ULTA Ultimate Clean Foaming Face Wash
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration Moisturizing Shampoo
Aveda Dry Remedy Daily Moisturizing Oil
Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes

Everything here, with the exception of the pack of face wipes, is a mini/travel size. I gambled and decided not to take conditioner, for some reason. The Aveda oil, which is amazing stuff, made my hair soft enough and easy to comb through without conditioning in the shower. You only need to use a few drops (3-5), so this teeny sample has lasted me ages. I can't bring myself to spend $27 on 1 ounce of it, though, when there are so many other hair oils out there that might (?) work just as well. I do like this stuff much better than any of the argan oil and its ilk I've tried out in the past, so maybe I should just do it. By the last day for the trip, my hair was getting a little dry, but I found a bottle of Pantene conditioner in the cabin's other shower (the one I hadn't been using). That made my hair a little happier. There was also body wash already at the cabin, so I didn't bring any along with me.

The only thing I managed to use up here were the two cloths left in the Simple pack. The dry shampoo probably has one use left in it.

Monday, July 28, 2014

L'Oreal's FTC settlement for deceptive advertising of the Youth Code/Génefique lines (from Truth in Advertising)

I hope we all assume that most skincare advertising claims are bullshit of some kind or another, but I guess this goes beyond slippery, confusing marketing language into actual deception. A jar of goop that can manipulate your genes? I seriously hope not. Or if so, I would like to rub the gene for being able to do math on my face or find some lotion that will kill my hereditary anxiety.

Oh, and L'Oreal doesn't have to pay a cent as the result of this settlement, despite having made well over a billion dollars from selling this crap.

Where can you return cosmetics that don't work out for you? (from Racked)

Sometimes there's no tester (and you don't want to be the person who smears the last tube of lipstick on their hand and then puts it back in the display). Sometimes there's a tester, but it looks great in the store and hideous in every other lighting situation. Sometimes you just have regrets. It's okay. You are allowed to return things. Or at least, you're allowed to return cosmetics at some stores. If you're going to go out on a limb with something, maybe consider buying it from one of these places.

(I know, I know, I need to get with some kind of regular posting schedule. At least for my own sake, if you don't give a shit, which you probably don't. And I blew through my back log of photos, so I need to take more if I want to review anything new. I'm working on it. Meanwhile, apartment hunting is sucking out my soul and most of my free time.)

40% off "vintage" Butter London polishes

Disclosure: This post contains no affiliate links.
Hasn't Butter London only been around for a few years? I think we're playing a little fast and loose with the word vintage these days. Anyway, these are some of their "old" favorite, and you can get them for $9 each using the code VINTAGE40 until July 31. That's still more than a cheapskate like me would spend on a bottle of nail polish, but I don't know your life. I do know that people get excited about BL sales, and that they make some good nail polish. Wallis is always a good choice. Shipping is around $8, so it may not be worth it unless you're buying more than one bottle.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blog sale updated

Just a quick note to say that I added a bunch of stuff to the blog sale, including several free things. I also added some (very hastily taken) photos on the things that hadn't been photographed recently. I'm going to be moving in a couple of weeks, so the sale will only be posted until then. (Mind you, I still haven't found a new place to move into - though I have seen several charming ads on Craigslist offering free/discounted rent to "girls" who want to "have a little fun". Is that even legal? I'm not that desperate yet.)

Let me reiterate that if you would just like to take a bunch of free stuff from the sale and nothing else, so long as you will pay for the shipping, that is totally cool. Please do!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Birchbox One Year Subscription + $25 credit for about $80 (or less)

Disclosure: This post contains referral links.
This deal will only work for people who haven't had Birchbox for the last 3 month and/or are new to Gilt City. They have a deal for a one year Birchbox subscription and $25 in credits for the Birchbox store for $99 ($135 value) (click on the "National" category to find it). But if you sign up for Gilt City using an invite link (here's mine) you'll get 25% off your first order. If you already have a Gilt account, but have never bought from Gilt City, you can use the code welcome20 to get 20% off your order. You can also get an extra 4% cash back using Ebates.

According to my calculations, this makes Birchbox about $6.50 a month, depending which code you use, instead of the usual $10 you would pay if you were doing it on a monthly basis. Plus you get all those credits.

Ugh, this is really tempting. I was planning to drop Ipsy (getting bored with it) in favor of Birchbox in September once I'm working full time again (I got a job!). But this deal ends July 28. Is that money worth more to me now or later?

Monday, July 21, 2014

A bunch of Paula's Choice reviews

Disclosure: This post contains referral and Amazon affiliate links.
I've been very lucky during the past few months of my unemployment that I was able to keep using my regular Paula's Choice routine, even though the products are not particularly cheap. That's because lots of people signed up through my invite link, and I really, really appreciate that. As a result, I've been able to replace the things I was already using when they ran out, as well as try a few new things. In return, I figured I should at least review some of the Paula's Choice (PC hereafter) products I've used. (I'm also hoping to do a PC giveaway sometime in the future as further thanks, but that will have to wait until I can swing the shipping costs.)

This week also seems like a good time for this post, since PC has a 15% off everything + free shipping on all orders sale going on (use code EDDVIPJUL14).

I've been using a few PC products for almost a decade now. I found out about Paula Begoun via a Canadian TV show called The Shopping Bags, which was almost like a shopping/consumer review blog in TV format, before there were blogs (it's still on TV somewhere in Canada, I think).  Paula was one of their regular consultants on makeup, skin, and hair care. I even owned one of her enormous books at one point. At the time, there weren't really many other sources of the kinds of information she provides, especially in terms of evaluating the marketing claims made by cosmetics companies. Now there are more options, but I still use the ingredients dictionary on the PC website all the time, because it's really comprehensive and easy to use.

Paula herself is a bit of a polarizing figure. She can be a little dogmatic and extreme at times. For instance, she used to insist that no one, no matter who they were, should ever wear any color of eye makeup other than neutrals and maybe, if you wanted to get a little crazy, plum. No shimmer, either. I get that it was a reaction against the frosty blue eyeshadows of the 80s, but come on (she's slackened only slightly on that point since then). There's more to life than matte neutrals. Because she was one of the first to do what she does, she can come across as a bit self important, too. In one of her radio shows from this year, she complained that she's seen other people online repeating information about cosmetics that originated with her. Well, do you want to inform people, or not?

These days, I'm a little more critical about the PC proclamations. I don't like fragrance in my skin care either, and I'd rather err on the side of caution for ingredients that cause irritation, but I think the their NO FRAGRANCE EVER OH MY GOD YOU'RE GOING TO BECOME A HAG IF YOU USE SOMETHING SMELLY stance is a bit much. Give me all the scented body lotion and lip balm! I also don't rely heavily on Beautypedia's ratings of makeup, because they often hinge on one or two details that have little to do with the actual performance of the product (I'll write something more about that another day). Today, PC/Beautypedia is one of many sources of information I consult.

All that said, I have had really, really good luck with the majority of the PC brand products I've tried. I get that they are trying to sell me shit just like every other company, but I appreciate their accessibility and transparency about why they formulated things the way they did and why they think the ingredients will be effective. That's still pretty rare. It's a brand I personally like, even though it's not the cheapest. They do have a lot of sales, at least.

Below are reviews of several PC products I've used, and I've indicated roughly how long I've been using them, in case that's useful information. I didn't bother to take photos of the packages, because I didn't think that would be particularly helpful (and a little too advertorial for a post like this). So this is a text heavy post. You might want to grab a cup of coffee before you read on (or spread it out over three days because, let's face it, after writing all that I'm going to need some time off). I'm not going to go into detail about the ingredients, because all of that information is available on the PC website, so I won't repeat it here.

Moisturizers


Comparison of three Paula's Choice Moisturizers (left to right): Skin Balancing Moisture Gel, Hydralight Moisture Infusing Lotion, and Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer
Comparison of three Paula's Choice Moisturizers (left to right): Skin Balancing Moisture Gel, Hydralight Moisture Infusing Lotion, and Skin Recovery Replenishing Moisturizer 
Skin Balancing Moisture Gel: I've been using this stuff the longest of anything from PC: at least 8 years, maybe 10. I absolutely love it. It's an ideal moisturizer for oily/combination skin like mine. It's a really light gel that soaks in quickly and leaves absolutely no greasiness or shine. It feels really refreshing. I've described it as a "drink of water for your face" to my boyfriend (though he continues to use his generic Lubriderm knockoff).

The downside of this particular moisturizer is that it burns if I apply it anywhere near my eyes. It's annoying. I can see from reviews that this doesn't happen with most people who use it, but apparently there's something in it that my eyes hate. If I want to moisturize the eye area, I have to pick something else. This gel is my usual daytime moisturizer, nevertheless. I put it on when I get out of the shower and it leaves my skin soft and gets rid of whatever tightness was caused by the heat and water.

It's not cheap ($24), but I've continued using it because I haven't been able to find a comparable gel moisturizer at a more affordable price. The only ones I'd encountered until recently were more expensive, packaged in a jar, and/or highly fragranced. I came across this Simple brand gel moisturizer a few weeks ago, though, so I might try it when I run out of the PC. (Has anyone else used it?)

Sunday, July 20, 2014

All about parabens (from Of Faces and Fingers)

This is a spectacularly useful post about the function and safety of parabens in cosmetics, in which the author collects information from a variety of sources and evaluates the reliability of those sources. For example, she provides a nice critique of the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which is the source of many of the OMG TOXIC POISON CANCER scares that come up in relation to makeup and skin care ingredients.

Here is a summary of the post's conclusions, but I highly recommend reading the entire thing. It's fascinating and informative.
So to sum up - my conclusion is based on several key points I've touched on over the 4 headings:

1. The bulk of scientific data shows that parabens are safe, and they are determined to be safe for us in almost all jurisdictions.  2. The scientific literature that fuelled the anti-paraben movement can't prove causation, and in any case the authors themselves say that they can't draw a link and further study is needed.  3. Your body breaks down parabens applied topically through urine and bile.  4. Parabens are used in tiny concentrations at less than 1% in cosmetics and skincare  5. Paraben alternatives are not necessarily safer, or more effective.  6. Parabens are broken down naturally in our environment.
I just really love smart, critical writing about cosmetics.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

The easiest DIY reusable cotton makeup pads ever

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.
I'm not a huge DIY person in that I don't DIY (DIM?) just for the hell of it. For the most part, I'm only going to make my own shit if it is cheaper (or, potentially, better) than something I can buy and if it's not going to be a huge, complicated chore. I respect people who make stuff all the time for the fun of it or to be less wasteful, but I need things to be cheap and easy at this stage in my life. Fortunately, this project hits all the buttons (is that a real expression? more whiskey): it's very cheap; it takes less than half an hour to complete; there is next to no skill required; and it's eco-friendly.

easiest DIY reusable cotton makeup pads ever
I also made this beautiful jar that I use to store these beautiful creations.
In a weird but not particularly exciting coincidence, about half an hour after realizing that I was out of cotton balls, I came across this Into the Gloss post about reusable makeup pads. Obviously a good idea, but that shit costs $22 for a pack of 8 ($2.75 a piece). A number of sellers on Etsy offer them for a more reasonable price, or you can make your own with a couple of bucks and a few minutes of your time.

This is not a detailed tutorial. The steps are essentially: (1) find cloth; and (2) cut cloth. You'll need to use a nice, soft, absorbent fabric, probably cotton. If you have an old flannel shirt or sheet that you're not going to use again, that'll work. If not, I recommend getting some flannel that is meant for babies, because it'll be extra soft. I suggest checking out the remnants section of the fabric store, because you only need a small piece, and you can get it very cheap that way. I paid less than $2 for the piece of flannel that I used, which was probably about 2.5' x 1.5' originally. I actual bought it around a year and a half ago to make a gift for a friend's baby. It's printed all over with the word baby in white, but, as you can probably see in the photo above, once I washed it the design pretty much disappeared, so I abandoned that project. It's perfect for this purpose, as it turns out.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Not convinced

I know I said I was going to post something more substantial, and I'm working on it, but in the meantime how about something ridiculous? Look at this Aveeno ad featuring some kind of photoshopped Frankenstein monster with Jennifer Aniston's face. It's on the back cover of an Allure magazine I have, not even hidden subtly somewhere in the middle of the magazine like an abomination of this sort should have been. I'd hazard a bet that that is not Aniston's actual body. HER HEAD IS THE SAME HEIGHT AS HER ENTIRE TORSO. And the hair doesn't appear to belong to the same person, either, which is not ideal when you're dealing with a celebrity who is known for her hair. The fingers are freaky, and whoever this is was clearly not actually sitting on that cushion - either that or she is made of colorful air - because there is no indentation in it. Are the digital photo people not even trying anymore? Are they severely underpaid and overworked? I don't get it.

So if this is what happens to you when you rub that lotion on yourself, I think I'll pass.